Divine Office Reflections | Saturday in the First Week of Advent
In today’s Office of Readings, we read, “Dear brethren, we must endure and persevere if we are to attain the truth and freedom we have been allowed to hope for; faith and hope are the very meaning of our being Christians, but if faith and hope are to bear their fruit, patience is necessary.” These are the words of St. Cyprian, a bishop and martyr from the 3rd century. He goes on to exhort us to “not to grow weary in good works through impatience, not to be distracted or overcome by temptations and so give up in the midst of our pilgrimage of praise and glory.” St. Cyprian acknowledges that as Christians it is often the case that our good deeds do not have immediate effects, at least ones that we can see or observe - and that this calls for patience.
When we strive to live according to truth in a world that runs on lies and deceit, it is difficult to see the value in moral actions and truthful speech when they just make life harder. Yet, we are people of faith. We place our trust in the God of Jesus Christ who has promised to "lead us to true liberty" (Concluding Prayer). Thus, in order to possess the freedom to live by eternal decrees even when they are rejected by the world and produce little effect (that we can see), we must persevere and remain patient. The temptation to relax our commitment to Jesus Christ and our loyalty to the Church which He has established is great. Our feeble senses fail to see the power of small acts of faith, hope, and charity through which we witness to the truth of the Gospel.
Advent is given to us once a year to remind us of what remains true throughout the spiritual life – namely, that we are a pilgrim people waiting with patience and perseverance for the day when “death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54) and our faith becomes sight. We look forward to the day when “the Lord God makes justice and praise spring up before all the nations” (Reading, Mid-afternoon Prayer) and crowns our good works with splendor and glory. But until that day, we must not grow weary or lose heart. To find the strength to press on, let us follow the example of David, “I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise always on my lips” (Psalm 34, Daytime Prayer). In other words, the strength to persevere and remain patient on this pilgrimage of ours will always be found in doing what we were made to do – blessing the Lord at all times and praising His holy name.